Zoltán Magyar, the Hungarian gymnast with two Olympic golds and an athlete with a successful post career.
Zoltán Magyar was born on December 13, 1953 in Budapest. From 1965 to 1980, he was a gymnast for FTC. He was successful mainly in pommel-horse, and with his trainer (László Vígh) he introduced many new technical elements into his practice. His name is accompanied by the first introduction of the Spindle (turning the body in the opposite direction from the circling legs), the and the Hungarian Traveller (crosswise circling travel down the horse). He has won 3 World and 3 European Championship titles. He was also a gold medalist at the 1976 Montreal and 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. He was selected Athlete of the Year three times (1974, 1978, 1980) and finished his career in 1980 after his victory in Moscow.
After finishing his professional sport career in 1985, he graduated in veterinary medicine. From 1986 he was a doctor at the Veterinary Hospital in Győr and became a veterinarian in Budapest in 1988. Meanwhile, from 1986 to 1989, he also served as Vice President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC). After 1989, he was “only” a member of HOC. He became a board member of the Hungarian National Gymnastics Association in 1989 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2001 he became a member of the board of Ferenc Mező Foundation. Currently he is the Chairman of the HOC Heritage Preservation Committee and since 2011 he has been actively involved in the promotion of gymnastics as the President of the Hungarian Gymnastics Association.
An interview with Balint Mate, Ferencvaros’s International project manager
At what age did he start thinking about his post-sports career and why then?
At the end of his career he thought only of his post-sport life, and in 1979 he decided to go to college and become a veterinarian. His main determination was that he would never remain after his active career in the sport.
Can you explain how the transition happened?
The transition was easy for him because he had consciously lived his life deliberately. He thought through every step of the way, so he had no trouble making a sharp change in his life after the sport.
Who helped him the most during this period?
He was always striving to surround himself with helping friends who do not take him on the wrong road (eg nightlife during university years).
What advice would you give to our young athletes of today?
He advises today’s young athletes to go through the wall and strive for reaching the maximum. Learn, work with honor, and then will be taken to something for sure in their life.
According to Zoltán Magyar, if he has the opportunity, he likes to meet and talk with young people. He tries to encourage them to exercise and be active. Fortunately, this sport is quite popular nowadays, and he is believed that the future generation of gymnastics should be nurtured. He, for instance donated to Krisztián Berki (Olympic gold medalist gymnast) from his own fortune to help him participate in the Olympic Games in London. He is pleased that over the years the number of children in this sport has tripled. He compares talents to gold fish which have to be caught and supported in every possible way to be able to shine.